Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WFB 8th Ed. Analysis- True Line of Sight

Hyperbole is often like shooting yourself in foot.

There's much hooplah out there in the ether about WFB 8th editions new "True Line of Sight" rules. I've read both silly and hyperbolic commentary and also been involved in some serious thought provoking discussion.I'd be lying if I said the new Line of Sight rules have not come into play in some of my games so the subject needs addressing.

All the drama revolves around two issues: The Literal: what the model can see, what it cannot and what cover does the target get, if any. And the Abstract: willful modeling abuse by people who'd use the rules to gain some sort playing advantage. While the douchery of the latter should be limited to tournaments and is valid concern. Modeling now has new caveat other than WYSIWYG. Reason and even logic should suggest that creativity in the hobby not be punished by these new Line of Sight Rules. So, how do you put all this together and take an objective look at Line of Sight in 8th Edition Warhammer?

Let's start out by reading the new rulebook, or better yet a shout out to the verbal application of one of my favorite acronyms "RTFM!" page 10 of rulebook under "Line of Sight" states;

"For one model to have line of sight to another, you must be able to trace an unblocked line of sight from its eyes to any part of its BODY (i.e. the head, torso, arms or legs) of the target."

"Sometime. all that will be visible of a model is weapon, banner or other ornament he is carrying. In these cases the model is NOT visible. Similarly, we ignore wings and tails, even thought they are technically part of a models body. These rules are intended to ensure models dont get penalized for having impressive Banners, swords and so on."
(Bold emphasis above mine,)

For starters- this is pretty cut and dry. One should be able to discern what is and what isnt visible given the above..Your Daemon Princes Wings sticking out from the behind the watch tower or your wizards staff extending straight above his head over the cav models in front of him dont penalize you as far Line of Sight goes. This goes a long way in creative modeling.

The ambiguity comes into play when you start getting creative about basing. Your Warhounds jumping over a 3 inch high rock bases so you can have a movable LoS blocking wall is pretty much crossing the line..while my wizard on 1 inch base, yes does get additional height to see over intervening infantry see but he can also be seen .In my opinion that falls into the line of acceptability, as it puts just as much risk as it does reward on the table. Similarly I have friend who put all his Waywatchers into model trees on 40mm bases..the models are at least 4 inches off the table..looks cool- great- 7th edition models..in 8th edition, not so much. is 4 inches too high? the risk vs reward is there, I have no problem with it..but someone could..what's appropriate when it comes to basing? there is no clear answer.

As far as the practical application of what models "see" what. Some issues that have come up in my games: Elevated units of shooters on a slope that are in the path of fire on another unit of shooter who are on a high elevation..yes they are in the way-, however they are elevated and can see more that half of the target..Soft cover?, Hard Cover? no Cover?.. The cover rules, while clear do not go into that kind of detail, even something as common place as half of a rank and file unit being behind a wall and half not is not mentioned.

In my experience so far and various discussions about this, Line of Sight issues are relatively minor and easily resolved with a simple discussion and at worse a Jervis style "dice off". However we can't escape the pitfalls with Tournaments that inevitably lie ahead.

TO's are going to have to be conscious of modeling abuse. If something looks to be designed to manipulate line of sight..for instance if I show up with my Empire Cannons now based on 6 inch towers, "who needs stinking hills anymore right?"Then the event judge will have to make the call. If something slips through the cracks into your game, that you dont like , Sportsmanship or Favorite game votes are your last recourse to keep your opponent in check. These aren't the kind of finite solutions people like- I am aware, its just what GW leaves you with

Of course all of this could be fixed with simple intuitive system that takes into account models
sizing based on base size and special rules to determine "what" can see "what". Lo and behold on the Warhammer Forum we find THIS.

Systematic Line of Sight:

Skirmishers: All skirmishers have x/0. This means that they use their normal Troop Type for determining what they themselves can see or be seen by, but other units treat them as having a value of 0 when drawing line of sight through them. Infantry that skirmish would be 1/0 for example.

Large Targets: Other Troop Types that are also large targets (such as a Large Target Chariot) always count as being Large Targets for Line of Sight purposes.

Troop Types:
0 Swarms
1 Infantry
1 War Beasts
2 Cavalry
2 Monstrous Cavalry
2 Monstrous Beasts
2 Monstrous Infantry
2 Chariots
1/2 War Machines
3 Monsters
3 Large Targets

0 Forests
0 Rivers
0 Marshland
0 Obstacles/Fences
2 Hills (per level)
2 Buildings (per level)
2 Impassable (in most cases)
? Arcane Architecture
? Monuments
(? will be specified where applicable)

Hills: Units standing on hills add the hill's value to their own. Cavalry on a one level hill have a value of 4 for example.

Obstacles: A unit in base-to-base contact with an Obstacle can see and shoot past it with no cover penalties.

Buildings: Units garrisoning buildings add the value of any upper levels to those drawing line of sight from the upper levels. 10 Infantry in a two level building would have a value of 1 for the five in the lower level and 3 for the five in the upper level for example.

Cover: If you shoot at a unit while there are intervening troops between the shooter and the target, then there is a hard cover modifier applied. If the shooter is on a higher level hill, or on the second or above level of a building, then this hard cover modifier is ignored unless the intervening troops are also on the same level of hill or building.

Large targets can never claim cover from such intervening troops.

A pretty simple intuitive system if you ask me with little (if any) ambiguity. a revelation for running a tournament for end running potential issues..As you can see in the thread I link to they are talking about making SLOS or TLOS the players choice in the mentioned event.

Once again creative minds end run Games Workshops continuation to make its flagship games less and less tournament friendly despite the demand for such from its customer base. Ultimately I see" True Line of Sight" as minor hiccup in the grand scheme of 8th Edition, as a strict implementation of the rules as written with a smattering of just "not being a douche" solves 95% of the problems.

As far as tournaments are concerned if the above will not suffice with your crowd..then a house ruled "Systematic Line of Sight" based on the above should do the trick..if not, then you're best served just grabbing the nearest fire hose, turning it on the crowd and calling it a day.

Big props to the Warhammer Forum, for staying at the very top of the game with the issues that matter. I'm going to try to keep up the pace on these pragmatic viewpoint articles covering various facets of 8th Edition play. Trying to keep it real and not let hyperbole blow your foot off is always a noble quest. Some things are never as big a deal as the internet makes them out to be so don't let them "kill your game"


Tim said...

Amen, brother.
It's posts like this that have made your blog my favorite WFB site, and why I've stopped going to other blogs with their constant "panic-attack" editorials.

When in doubt, there is always the Golden Rule! :)

Lord Azaghul said...

I play mainly play dwarves and thus far this ed (albet we haven’t done an 8th ed tounrey) my groupd has been pretty fair about that sort of cover thing. Mainly I think it comes from so many of us playing 5th ed 40k, where their form of cover modifier is almost everywhere, and in 8th an fantasty where it actually exists (as opposed to 7th). For most of it’s the cover modifiers seem pretty simple, BUT man of the players are newer to fantasy and the complex modeling hasn’t yet started!

My personally I don’t see much for me to gain by modeling my WM on elevated bases, or trying to modify a carnisaur to crouch down a little more! Being more of a casual player then a tourney guy I just want both players to have a good game! And modeling for advantage seems against that spirit.

To me, it’s the cover modifiers themselves, not the issue of determining cover that has proven the biggest impact to any Ballistic using troop or wm. Last week my quarrellers had a salamander at short range & behind a wall…I needed 7’s to hit (hard cover + skirmish)…I’m really scratching my head at that game design. I don’t even take my old standby’s in 7th anymore: bolt throwers.

Anonymous said...

The TLOS thing is a hassle in regular games, and like any other hassle it is multiplied in tournament games. The really nasty part is that the rules are pretty vague, as you stated, and where there are gaps, some of the 7th's more abstract rules start to creep in. This creates a very unwieldy hybrid in my opinion. TLOS isn't inherently problematic. It works great for skirmish games with less models, and less abstraction in general.

Some of my future models will be affected by the TLOS rules. That sucks, but it is also not the end of the world.

The ease of use of these rules will be defined by how easily two opponents can communicate about what actually means what.


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